Jury Finds No Discrimination

Partner Jim Lemieux completed a 3‑week jury trial involving a tenant, Ruth Alvizures, who claimed she was being wrongfully evicted by her landlord, Molly Johnson, on religious discrimination grounds and, specifically, in retaliation for the tenant’s refusal to attend bible study meetings at the onsite managers’ apartment. Both Alvizures and her neighbor claim they attended these religious meetings but, after declining further invitations, they allege that the managers and their daughters began a campaign of harassment against Alvizures and her neighbor, as well as Alvizures’ 11-year old daughter.  In defense, owner Johnson testified that she knew nothing about these allegations of “religious meetings”, nor did she care what religion her tenants were.  Instead, she sought to evict Alvizures due to complaints by other tenants that Alvizures was bothering other tenants by spraying a harmful chemical outside her apartment, causing other tenants to cough; swearing at other tenants and their guests; and using rude hand gestures toward people at the complex.  Further, the onsite managers and their two children testified that no such religious meetings occurred, nor did the alleged harassing conduct, and that all of these allegations were made up after the original 60‑day notice to evict was given.  The jury found no discrimination, 10‑2, and confirmed Johnson’s right to evict Alvizures.

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